SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE!

2 Timothy 4:7

- I HAVE FINISHED THE RACE -

The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, is acknowledging his comprehension that his life is almost over. He has come to a point that every Christian in their life is going to know. The words that he will share with Timothy become that which each of us should strive to be able to say in the same day.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

Along with the great conflict that Paul has actively engaged in, he additionally describes that his life has been a race that he has successfully run! For you and me, in order to see ourselves in the same state at the end of our lives, we must learn to appreciate this illustration of our lives in service to the Lord.

 

The illustration of our lives in service to the Lord as a race is one that appears often in the word of God. Each illustration introduces new thoughts to consider in order to break the tape that lies at the end of the run. Let's take a look at some of these illustrations!


 

A Race Striving for a Crown

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

 

The Apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Corinth, which is located in the southern portion of Greece, in the province known as Achaia. The proximity to Athens and the Greek games that they were so familiar with caused Paul to use this illustration to promote the attitude we should have for this race we run, as well as the prize or goal we strive for.

The crown being spoken of here is the Greek word, ‘ Stephanos '. This is the victor's crown, the symbol of triumph in the games we have mentioned. This is the same crown that Paul has said in our opening text is laid up for him and all who “have loved His appearing”, or like Paul, have finished the race.


 

We Must Run Well

 

Galatians 5:7 “ You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”

 

As Paul writes his letter to the churches of Galatia, He notes that they had run well. The tense gives cause to see that something has hindered their race and caused them to break stride, fall off the path, or anything else that could be rendered as detrimental to a well-run race. We learn in the context of the letter, that the hindrance is the perversion of the Gospel that directs their race by the Judaizing teachers (1:6-10).


 

We Can be Bolstered by Others

Philippians 2:16 "holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."

As Paul writes to the brethren in Philippi and encourages them to continue and maintain their race in service, Paul states that he is also bolstered in his own race by their faithfulness. They, being faithful, have made his race in the Gospel of Christ, a worthwhile venture, so that he can rejoice in his efforts. He also wants them to continue to attain to their goal, just as he continues to his – see: Philippians 3:12-16.


 

We are to Run by Specific Rules

2 Timothy 2:5 “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

As Paul writes to Timothy (his son in the faith – 2 Timothy 1:2), Paul wants to encourage Timothy to run the same race he has also run, enduring hardships, committing the things he has learned to faithful men who will teach others also (2 Timothy 2:1-4). Thus to teach that the race we run is not random, at our pleasure, but by a specific, established, and mandatory set of rules (the doctrine of Christ – 2 John 9).

This should also help us to get it out of our minds that the Master would not ask us to accomplish anything difficult. The fact of the matter is that our race must be one where we add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, piety, brotherly kindness, and love – 2 Peter 1:5-7.


 

We are to Lay Aside the Weights and Snares

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 

Worry over the things of this life can be a terrible weight and make our race almost impossible to run. Peter says that we must “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” 1 Peter 2:11. The war is fought in the fret and worry over these things.

In addition, the Hebrew writer warns of the snare of sin, which traps us and keeps us from the race set before us. Thus, we must also avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17), that prevent us from serving our God through Christ Jesus.

In addition, we can bolster our race by looking to Him who is the author and finisher of our race; Jesus the Christ. We can run boldly to the throne of grace, because He gives us strength and assistance in our time of need – Hebrews 4:14-16. This aid comes from the deliverance of all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3).


 

Key Words in our Race –

 

Endure: To bear or carry; to hold up; and to suffer through hardship.

 

Patience: An abiding under pressure; and persistent perseverance.

 

Steadfast: To be firmly fixed to the task; and un-deterred.

 

Longsuffering: This is the self-restraint in the face of provocation or difficulty.

 

Romans 12:11-12  “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

2 Timothy 3:10-14 “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them”


 

The Prize –

I don't know what the new song will be in that day, but I know that we will have to sing a completely different understanding. The fact of the matter is that our faith will be sight, our hope will be realization, and we will be left to dwell in the glory of the love of God forever!

Brethren, let us go on to break the tape, and like Paul, be able to say:

I Have Finished the Race!